Google wants its Chromebook platform to excel and now it wants to make them even better at Android games too. That’s based on a recent report detailing a new commit spotted in the Chromium code repository for Chromebooks.
Of course, Chrome OS can already be used for gaming. Everything from GeForce Now to Stadia and even Steam, once development there wraps up, is supported. But this change will alter something fundamental in the way Chromebook devices run Android games for the better. Namely, by dealing with an issue caused by the virtualization of Android games. Or more specifically, the use of on-the-fly shaders in games.
As the situation currently stands, those shaders being called forward on the fly results in several issues. By compiling them that way, more resources are required in terms of memory. And, as the gaming intensity ramps up, so do the problems that can cause. especially with regard to freezes, stutters, and framerate drops.
Put simply, Google is looking to fix that.
How Google will make Android games on Chromebook better is… complicated
Summarily, Google is looking to allow Android VM to take advantage of a Linux feature on Chromebooks. Namely, the Mesa shader disk cache.
That will allow compiled game shaders to be stored on-disk for future use. That’s as long as the Chromebook hasn’t been restarted, at which point the cache will be cleared. Just as with Linux apps. Since most users likely don’t fully shut down or restart often, the benefits of that would be immediate.
For more intensive games, the local storing of shaders could result in faster loading times, just for starters. As much as eight times faster, in fact. And textures and other graphical elements will be significantly better too. All while delivering fewer hangups like those mentioned above.
Best of all, the change should be impactful from the best of the best Chromebooks to the most affordable offerings on the market.
Will this arrive with Android 11? Android 12? Who knows
Now, there has been some speculation that older Chromebooks may not have access. Particularly those stuck on Android 9 after Google finally gets around to updating the Chrome OS Android version. But it’s worth mention this is a feature used by Linux already. So Google making the leap to better Android games on a Chromebook shouldn’t be too difficult. And, since all new Chromebooks from 2019 support Linux, with the feature getting ready to leave beta, it should support most on the market today.
Harder to determine from the Chromium Gerrit commit, however, is when this will arrive. There’s no indication in the repository pointing to a specific version and Google hasn’t said anything about this officially yet.